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Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 23:44 GMT 00:44 UK
Underage girls get morning after pills
morning after pill
The morning-after pill has been available from chemists
More than 100 under-16s have asked their chemist for the morning-after pill since the launch of a pioneering pilot scheme.

However, this forms only a tiny proportion - just under 4% - of the total number of women approaching pharmacies for the treatment.

And only a quarter of the under-16s were as young as 14.

More than 70 chemists in three inner-city Health Action Zones took part in the pilot scheme, launched in December.

If the pilot is judged successful, it may be extended nationwide.

Anti-abortion groups and family groups have complained that more freely available morning-after contraception may encourage younger people to have unprotected sex.

The figures comes from just one health action zone, Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

The scheme was launched there to try to combat rising levels of teenage pregnancy - believed to be the highest in Britain.

It proved most popular with women in their 20s, making up 55% of those who asked for emergency contraception.

On Thursday an advertising campaign is to be launched in Greater Manchester to encourage younger women, particularly 16 to 19 year olds, to use the service.

'Enormous success'

A spokesman for Manchester, Salford and Trafford Health Authority said: "It's been enormously successful judging by the interest in it.

"It's not only been national but we've had interest from abroad about the scheme as well.

"It's a scheme that is meant to address the pregnancy which in Manchester and Salford is a large problem.

"It transcends the moral argument - what's more immoral, to take a tablet or be left with an unwanted baby?"

Most of the under-16s who came to the chemist for the pills had done so either because they had had unprotected sex, or because a condom had burst.

Approximately one in 12 women who ask for the pill is refused it after a 10-minute consultation in private with the pharmacist.

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07 Jul 99 | Latest News
Women to get emergency pill
29 Nov 99 | Medical notes
Emergency contraception
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